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Is it harder to store grain longer in big bins vs. smaller bins?

Is it harder to store grain longer in big bins vs. smaller bins?
Expert says answer is 'Yes' (with qualifiers), and offers tips on storing in larger bins

You know you will likely want to store some of your ’16 corn crop for more than six months. Will it be easier to do in your smaller bins or your larger bins? “Small” and “large” are relative terms, but the concepts are similar.

Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, believes you can store grain properly in any size of bin if you follow basic storage rules. However, he does acknowledge that there are different forces at play in very large bins that can make attention to detail even more important.

Here is an excerpt from a question-and-answer session with Woodruff.


IPF: Is it harder to keep grain in condition in very large bins vs. smaller bins?

OVERCOME STORAGE ISSUES: Very large bins pose some challenges for long-term storage, but experts say the challenges can be overcome.

Woodruff: It is [harder], but if the storage moisture was based on the storage period and grain temperature, and general storage rules are followed, it can be just as safe. These [strategies] include not overfilling the bin, repetitive coring during filling, and an initial constant aeration of the bin for 10 days to equalize kernel moisture.

IPF: Are there other steps that you can take to help corn store better in larger bins?

Woodruff: Pull the peak of the grain down to the same level as the bin wall as soon as possible. Also, follow good aeration procedures.

IPF: Why can there be more challenges in larger bins?

Woodruff: Large bins have an issue smaller bins do not have. The greater grain depth on bins, usually above 30,000 bushels in size, leads to high static pressure, [measured] as 4 inches of water column. That pressure creates heat of pressurization, which will move moisture from the bottom of the bin upward in the mass. That can cause [grain] condition issues with heating and dry matter loss.

IPF: Does aeration help?

Woodruff: The only real benefit from aeration is that it lowers the grain temperature, increasing storage life, and preventing insect and mold growth. Higher airflow in a bin does not extend storage life. Going over one-fourth cfm [cubic foot per minute] per bushel has little value and can cause more problems than it solves.

IPF: Does more horsepower on a bin fan help?

Woodruff: Eight times the horsepower on a large bin only reduces the time it takes to cool the entire mass by a little over half. The goal should be to cool the grain in four or five days, not to correct a condition issue. That is not possible. The only fix to a condition heating issue is to move the affected grain out of the bin.

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